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Riddle: What question can you never say yes to?

Answer: Are you asleep?

Unhappily, for some of us we can answer the question and the answer is often “NO!  I’m not asleep!” Either we can’t fall asleep when we go to bed or we wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.  Our lives are keyed up and wired and getting enough sleep turns out to be a very difficult thing to do.  You can poll your neighbors - read a boring book, take melatonin, put a hot pad on your tummy, count sheep – or you can read what experts have to say.  Here are some recent books that shed light on the problem of sleeplessness.  

by W. Chris Winter, M.D.

Sleep expert and neurologist, Dr. Winter, has twenty-four years of experience helping more than 10,000 people sleep better. His book will help you understand your sleep patterns and problems to find the best interventions so you can have healthy sleep. 


by Michael McGirr

Looking back at the sleep patterns of great people like Shakespeare, Aristotle, and Thomas Edison, McGirr’s entertaining book explains what our brains are doing when we are asleep, the benefits of healthy sleep, and why sound sleep is sometimes so elusive.


by Paul Glovinsky and Arthur Spielman

Two doctors share recent research about how people get sleepy, the difference between fatigue and being sleepy, and how being hyper or depressed can interfere with sleep and lead to insomnia.


by Benjamin Reiss

Sleep is essential to human beings but down through history where we sleep, who we sleep with, and how much we sleep have changed dramatically. Our modern cultural definition of the requirements for sleep has added to our sleep problems, contributing to insomnia, exhaustion and sleep disorders.


2.27 The Power of WhenTHE POWER OF WHEN
by Michael Breus

Exploring exciting new research about out biology, Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep medicine specialist, offers a comprehensive quiz to help you discover your “chronotype.”  Find out how to take advantage of your “body’s inner clock” in order to know your best time of day for a variety of personal activities including sleep.  Take the quizzes he offers in the book to learn what your own personal circadian rhythms are and discover if you are a “Dolphin, Wolf, Bear, or Lion.”


 dance movies

February 24th is National Dance Day! Whether you’ve got two left feet or you’re the twinkle toes of your squad, you can celebrate with these great dance flicks this weekend: 

2.23 The Red ShoesTHE RED SHOES
Directed by by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

THE RED SHOES is the Mother of All Dance Films. Gorgeously filmed, this movie tells the tale of a talented ballerina torn between her love of ballet and love for a gifted composer, as her unyielding mentor will not allow her both. Nominated for five Oscars, winning the award for Best Original Score and Best Art Direction, this film broke ground in film editing and cinematography. This wasn’t the first film to feature dancing, musical films having hit the scene decades before, but it was the first to of what today we call a dance film. While it only had a limited release in the United States, its success is linked to movie studios’ revamping the then-stale musical film genre, which had exploded in the 1920s and with the exception of some major hits (thanks Ginger and Fred), had exhausted audience interest with formulaic, unoriginal productions. Think of some classic musical films right now. Chances are, most of the ones springing to mind feature fabulous dancing and were made post-THE RED SHOES.


2.23 Step UpSTEP UP
Directed by Anne Fletcher

After a dry spell in the 90s, dance movies made their way back to the box office with offerings like CENTER STAGE, SAVE THE LAST DANCE, SHALL WE DANCE (see Honorable Mentions below). But 2006, ah, that was the year that heralded the dance movie renaissance – and the arrival of Channing Tatum. Tatum and his wife Jenna met starring in this story of a street-smart boy and a high-achieving girl brought together by chance when her dance partner gets injured, and how dance brings them together. STEP UP combines classic dance/musical film elements with timeless coming-of-age themes creating a movie that’s entertaining and has got some meat. Sure, it’s still another teen movie that spawned a multitude of sequels, each more corny and ill-conceived than the last (plot wise only, the dancing is still TOP NOTCH), but STEP UP will make your heart dance – and the rest of you, too.  


2.23 Strictly BallroomSTRICTLY BALLROOM
Directed by Baz Luhrmann

The first of Baz Luhrmann’s “red curtain trilogy,” STRICTLY BALLROOM is strictly delightful. Watch Scott, a champion ballroom dancer, defy convention and take the Australian Pan Pacific Championship by storm with the help of a new, less experienced partner. Although a lighter, more heartwarming offering than his later films ROMEO + JULIET  and MOULIN ROUGE, this film has all the trademarks of Luhrmann’s signature style. With fantastic acting, vibrant colors, stunning editing, and incredible music, STRICTLY BALLROOM is a veritable feast of entertainment.  


2.23 FootlooseFOOTLOOSE
Directed by Herbert Ross

Don’t worry, I could never forget this masterpiece. I mean, you gotta cut loose. The one and only Kevin Bacon stars in this dance/musical flick as a city-boy suddenly stuck in a small town where dancing has been – gasp – banned!  It’s the age-old struggle of young versus old, and extreme protective measures actually encouraging the very behavior they meant to avoid. You might notice some familiar sights while you watch, since FOOTLOOSE was filmed right here in Utah County! After watching, take a pilgrimage and visit all the sites. Locations include the Lehi Roller Mills, Springville and Payson’s high schools, and most memorably, Geneva Steel as the stage for the best anger-dance montage in movie history. And if you’re so inclined, do a double feature and compare the original to the 2011 remake.  


2.23 Take the LeadTAKE THE LEAD
Directed by Liz Friedlander

Antonio Banderas teaching teens to do ballroom? Yes please! Better yet, TAKE THE LEAD is based on the true story of dance teacher Pierre Dulaine, who saw an opportunity to help at-risk teens learn trust, confidence, and teamwork using ballroom dance. While it plays out like many classroom parables, I love that this film stresses that trusting and respectful relationships contribute to fulfillment and success. You’ll love the characters, the dancing (Jenna Dewan Tatum wowing us again), the warm fuzzy-feels – everything. Like I said earlier, 2006 was the great year of dance movies, so don’t miss this. And if you find yourself needing more, check out the documentary MAD HOT BALLROOM, about participants in Pierre Dulaine’s dance program for fifth graders in New York City.  


Honorable Mentions:




Available at Orem Public Library:





cooking the books 01

If you’ve been following this series at all, you’ll be aware that in my last post I wrote about being very pregnant and not really wanting to cook. If I thought cooking was hard then, it certainly hasn’t gotten any easier since having the baby about a month ago. We were well taken care of for several weeks by kind friends and family, but eventually I knew that I would have to start cooking again, so I decided to turn to someone whose specialty is cooking for families: the Pioneer Woman. 

I honestly haven’t followed the Pioneer Woman that much. I know she has a blog; I know she has a show; I know she has several cookbooks; I know she has a line of kitchenware. After checking out her cookbook, I see why she has all those things. Her cookbook is conversational and relatable, and filled with full color photos of hundreds of recipes that I want to try. This is a cookbook I’m going to put on hold as soon as I return it, because I didn’t get to try everything that I wanted to. THE PIONEER WOMAN COOKS: DINNERTIME offers a variety of yummy dinnertime solutions to make things work for a busy family.

This recipe comes from the freezer section of the cookbook, and operates on the idea that you spend a few hours making meatballs and then have easy dinners ready for later. If you follow the instructions, you really will spend a few hours making meatballs, but it will be worth it! These are nice, subtle-flavored meatballs. We tried them with the Sweet and Sour Sauce (included below! Bonus recipe!), and we’ve also had them with the easy chili sauce/grape jelly gravy that you know from every potluck you’ve been to. Both were delicious!

2.15 Pioneer Woman


Ready-to-Go Freezer Meatballs
by Ree Drummond



5 pounds ground beef
1 ½ cups plain breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 large eggs
2 heaping tablespoons grainy mustard
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Olive oil, for frying 


  1. Combine all the ingredients (except the olive oil) in a large bowl.
  2. Knead it all together well with your hands until it’s well combined.
  3. Scoop out 1-tablespoon portions of the meat mixture and roll them into neat balls.
  4. Place them on parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheets as you got, then put the sheets in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm them up before frying.
  5. To brown the meatballs, heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large skilled over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add some meatballs to the skillet…
  6. And cook them on all sides until they have great color on the surface and are fully cooked inside, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Drain the meatballs on paper towels when they’re done, then line them up on clean parchment-paper-lined baking sheets.
  8. Place them in the freezer, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until they’re frozen and firm on the surface.
  9. Then just pop them into 5 to 7 separate freezer bags (roughly 25 per bag)…
  10. And freeze them immediately. They’ll be there when you need them! 

FREEZER INSTRUCTIONS: Freeze the meatballs for up to 6 months. To use them in sauces or soups, simply add them to the hot sauce or soup and allow it to simmer long enough for the meatballs to thaw and heat up. Or allow the meatballs to thaw in the fridge for 2 hours, then use them as you’d like. 

BONUS: Sweet-and-sour Meatballs 


2 ¼ cups pineapple juice
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
One 25-count bag frozen Read-to-Go Freezer Meatballs
1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot sauce, more to taste
1 cup drained canned or fresh pineapple chunks
4 tablespoons sliced green onions
1 ½ cups long-grain or basmati rice, cooked, for serving 


  1. In a large skillet (with a lid), combine 2 cups of the pineapple juice…
  2. With the brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, and soy sauce.
  3. Stir the mixture around and bring it to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.
  4. To thicken the sauce, make a slurry by mixing the cornstarch with the remaining ¼ cup pineapple juice until smooth…
  5. Then add it to the sauce, whisking to combine.
  6. Add the frozen meatballs…
  7. Then the sriracha…
  8. And toss to combine. Cover the skillet and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are heated through.
  9. Stir in the pineapple…
  10. Then sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of the green onions.
  11. Serve the meatballs and sauce over the rice and sprinkle on the rest of the green onions at the end! 

Teen OVP 2018 FB event

It’s no secret that I think Korean culture is awesome. I’ve mentioned it in past blog posts (Friday Faves: K-Pop, Global Road Warrior, Friday Faves: Books for K-Pop Lovers), and just yesterday I was caught up talking to my dental hygienist about my favorite Korean dramas while she cleaned my husband’s teeth … but that’s beside the point.

Korea is awesome! And my love for it was bound to influence a Library program eventually.

Since the Olympics are in Pyeongchang, South Korea this year, we’re celebrating with a Teen Olympic Viewing Party, complete with Korean food! My mouth is watering…

As we watch the Olympics we’ll be serving kimbap (김밥) which consists of various fillings wrapped in rice and seaweed, similar to Japanese sushi, and tteokbokki (떡볶이), rice cakes stir-fried in a spicy sauce. Both of these are delicious in their own way, and are common street foods in Korea.

If you are a teen, or know of a teen that…

  • is interested in watching the Olympics,
  • likes trying international cuisine,
  • is riding the Korean wave,
  • wants to just hang out for a little while, or might be hungry (this is the part that’s meant to refer to all teens)

then make sure they hear about our Olympic Viewing Party on Thursday, February 22 at 7:00 pm in the Shaw Programming Room (#260).

We’ll see you there, ready to cheer on the athletes! Hwaiting!*  

*Hwaiting: In Korean (화이팅, or 파이팅), a commonly used word of support, encouragement, and/or a cheer. Originating from the English word, “fighting.”

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